At the turn of the 20th century, many men considered the formation of church women’s societies a new, radical, and even dangerous idea. Whispers persisted that these groups actually served as a cover to promote “woman’s rights propaganda.” When such organizations did manage to form, the congregation’s pastor usually attended the meetings and led the program. After all, worried one alarmed pastor, if women were left to their own devices, “Who knows what they will pray for?”
These women are our ancestors in faith. Without their determination to organize into societies—often in the face of opposition from those they loved best—the church would not have been planted overseas or in the cities and towns that sprang up across the country in the early 20th century. We owe a great debt of thanks to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers and the countless other women whose stories we may never fully know.
This message is adapted from “Threads in Women’s Hands” written by Susan Wilds McArver in the January/February 2005 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. Today begins Women’s History Month. We remember George Herbert, hymnwriter, who died in 1633.